Monday, September 29, 2014

Preserving the Bounty: Sauerkraut!!!

I've been meaning to try this project for awhile now, but I admit I have always found it terribly intimidating. Sauerkraut, like spaghetti sauce, has deep roots in my family. I can remember many a childhood day that contained it. Also spaghetti sauce, though, I never ate the stuff in childhood. I referred to it as Sour Crap.

Eventually, I saw the light.

And it's a good thing I did too. Cabbage is crazy good for you. Fermented cabbage? Well, that goes and doubles things, now doesn't it?

So...with extra cabbage in hand, I turned to the source:

Now, you'll notice a few things about this recipe that differ from other instructions. Number one of which is the addition of sugar and vinegar. I have heard that naturally fermented sauerkraut (aka the super healthy stuff) contains neither of these things, only salt. This being my first time making it, using my nonna's recipe was important to me, so I opted to use these ingredients. I may change that in the future depending on my research.

Also my cabbage is weird because it's purple, but this is what we grew in the garden this year. It actually turns out rather nicely, just make sure you have some lemon juice on hand in case your hands or counters get stained.

Sauerkraut is actually easier to make than you think. My mental image of giant tubs of foul smelly cabbage notwithstanding. All you need is a 2 lb cabbage, some salt, and a mason jar.

First, roughly chop the cabbage and sprinkle with salt (and whatever else your person recipe calls for. Some I found use caraway seeds). You won't think it's enough salt, but trust me. Massage the cabbage, working the salt in until it starts to break down.

Continue for another two minutes or so, then firmly pack the cabbage into the mason jar (mine made enough for a quart), pouring any leftover liquid over top. For the next 24 hours, pack down the cabbage (I used a half-pint jar as it fit exactly) and keep in a cool, dry place.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Preserving the Bounty: Sweet Sauce [The Cookbook]

A week ago, Madre came to visit and we canned several quarts of sweet sauce (we also did salsa and pickled peppers as well, because we had an absolutely absurd amount of tomatoes from our garden). Sauce has been on my cooking bucket list since, well, pretty much forever. It' a legacy in my family. Nonno was well known for his spaghetti sauce (even though I refused to eat it until I was well into my teens - it's a long and terribly odd story that I'll save as fodder for the memoir), and Bisnonna's sweet sauce is a starting point for the majority of her main dishes.

As I am not feeling well; however, I will let the pictures and madre do the talking on this one:

Sweet Sauce: [madre writes] Brown a couple onions in a little oil. Blend your tomatoes in the food processor. This will blend everything. Grandma used to put her tomatoes in really hot water, then peel the skins off and squeeze the juice and seeds out of the tomato. You do whatever method is best for you. Add a pinch of salt, sweet basil, oregano and pepper. Let it cook for a little while. Then add a can or two of paste. Add some sugar to taste. Let this cook a good while so that it thickens up. All the amounts of the ingredients depends on how many tomatoes you are using. Use your own judgment. I like to can mine. Grandma would put hers in the freezer. Here again, do what is best for you. This sauce can be used as a base for vegetable soup, spaghetti sauce, and chili. Have some fun with it.